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Oahu: Spiritual Serenity

Sometimes, when you feel that warm breeze or feel some type of spiritual or emotional vibe, it’s because the grounds are very tribally and culturally connected.

Christmas for the Tate family was always held at my house. It was our thing, in Chicago, snowing, and cold outside. I was that girl who woke up at 5:30 am and wanted to open presents from Santa. I would get my mom, my grandma, and my Uncle Greg up early and we would sit around the tree, drink eggnog, and open gifts with a fire burning in the background. And then we would always host our family that evening. That was Christmas for us for 25 years of my life.

In November of 2009, I was approached with the suggestion that I should handle all of the Obama’s logistics on their personal trip to Hawaii for Christmas. They also gave me the opportunity to bring a member of our family to share in the holidays with me. So, I very excitedly accepted, but cautiously approached my mother thinking she wasn’t going to be remotely interested in anything other than what we’ve always done – our white Chicago Christmas. I tiptoed around the topic for weeks and finally said, “So mom, I got this opportunity. They want me to go to Hawaii for Christmas. What do you think..?” And all I heard on the other end of the phone was her yelling, “YES! Where do I sign up?! I’ll buy my ticket today! Absolutely!!” And I was just dumbfounded that she was so excited!

There is such a family-oriented vibe in Hawaii. Over the course of the years, I not only brought my mom, but I also was able to bring my uncle, my friends, my mom’s friends, and my godchildren. Hawaii is now a part of all of our lives, a part of who we are. The warm ohana spirit took over and now I can’t envision a Christmas not in Hawaii. One of my favorite things about Hawaii at the holidays is that they actually celebrate. I remember pouting before going and saying, “I’ll never see a Christmas tree.” But it will be 80 degrees and they will still have Christmas trees on the beach. Literally, they bring Christmas trees on the beach! The decorations make you actually feel the Christmas spirit.

Hawaii is so traditionally inclusive, especially in holiday love, and the ohana spirit is just everything. Polynesian culture in general is just so spiritually amazing. Hawaii used to have a monarchy and there are places dedicated to this rich history where they talk about the kings’ spirit still living. Sometimes,  when you feel that warm breeze or feel some type of spiritual or emotional vibe, it’s because the grounds are very tribally, and culturally connected.

Every time I go to the Pali Lookout in Oahu, I feel some kind of way. In Hawaiian culture, you spread a loved one’s ashes off cliffs. A lot of people have spread ashes at the Pali Lookout, so when you go you feel this energy. My Uncle Greg would always go to the Pali Lookout before he passed in 2012, so I still get this tingle when I go. We used to drive all the way from Waikiki to Kailua. I don’t really drive when I’m there anymore, so I don’t pass by the Pali Lookout as much, but when I do, there’s something in the air. Not just the Pali Lookout though, but any of the hikes I go on in Hawaii. You get up there, and you just feel like you’re above it all.

There are so many memories of my mom there. Her spirit still lives with me, especially when I’m in Oahu. We spent so much time at Hanauma Bay.  Even President Obama’s mom used to go there when she was pregnant with him to just pray and spend time by herself. There are so many places in Hawaii where you just feel this immense sense of serenity…Serenity is the word I would use to describe the feeling Oahu brings me.

Oahu has honestly become a second home for me. From the cliffs of Hanauma Bay, to the beautiful beaches of Kailua, Oahu is just insanely beautiful.


Luckily, along the course of this job I’ve also had the opportunity to see Hawaii at times other than the holidays. We planned the APEC 2011 Summit in Hawaii, which allowed me many opportunities to go back and forth as we planned. It’s also President Obama’s home.  He’s very much a surfer dude who loves the water, and is so proud of his home and loves to share it with us. I’ve gotten to learn personally about it from he and his sister Maya. Oahu has honestly become a second home for me. From the cliffs of Hanauma Bay, to the beautiful beaches of Kailua, Oahu is just insanely beautiful. Even CNN has named Kailua Beach Park #1 in the U.S. for like a bazillion years.

Then, there’s the North Shore… Oh the North Shore. The North Shore is a tourist attraction, but the beach there is just pristine and gorgeous. It’s a surfer’s paradise. And there are food trucks everywhere! You can go to the burger trucks, and there’s this bomb shrimp truck, and even a specialty ice cream shop. It’s literally food heaven. But we always try new restaurants in Hawaii. Always. There are constantly new up-and-coming places. Honolulu is really a bustling city.  There are all of these fun new concepts and such fresh fish. The culinary scene in Hawaii is always reinventing itself. It’s a big deal because they have so many tourists and it’s around the corner from Japan, so there’s a huge Asian influence (which is my fave).

There is so much beauty and culinary excitement in Oahu that I want to share. When I travel to Hawaii these are my things – where I like to stay, eat, enjoy the Ohana spirit, and sing Hawaiian Christmas songs at the top of my lungs. If you’ve never heard one before, click the link below for some fun.

Mele Kalikimaka,

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